I can confirm that:
Deep Heat does not deter sandflies; mice seem to have the magic skills of getting into a closed backpack to eat my peanuts; I have a selective memory of how hard the uphills are in the Richmond Ranges; five days warm up walking the Queen Charlotte Track is not sufficient for taking on “proper” mountains; a trail outlined on a topo map does not mean it is a trail that has been used recently; I love ridgeline tracks.
I know I already walked the Richmond Ranges last season – the most demanding section of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand due to its 8-10 days between civilisation points and ridiculously high mountains and exceptionally steep and exposed descents – so technically I didn’t really need to walk it again.
But the first four days from Pelorus Bridge were so lovely last year that I really wanted to experience it all over again. Continue reading
It was cold. It was grey. Where the hell was summer?
I shivered as I did some stretches before the official start of #WalkNZ part 2 began.
Here I was at the top of the South Island of New Zealand, and less than a year since I was last here ready to walk the Queen Charlotte Track through the Marlborough Sounds along the Te Araroa trail.
Back then it was the middle of February. That part of the country had been gripped by a six-week drought and a huge forest fire raged in a mountain range close by. Continue reading
And so, part 2 of #WalkNZ is about to begin.
I have just 1,000km left to walk to complete the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.
After having to pull out 20km short of the 2,000km mark in March this year due to a knee injury, there was no question about not coming back to finish the trail.
It was unfinished business. It called to me. It was something I had to do. There was no way I was going to give up now after coming this far. Continue reading
I was in Taumarunui, New Zealand – Day 68 and 1,032km into #WalkNZ.
I was just sitting, eating breakfast, really just minding my own business when the Dutch Te Araroa trail walker sat down next to me and proceeded to interrogate me.
“How many kilometres are you walking a day?” was his first question as he tucked into a juicy peach. Continue reading
It was a two-hour drive to Cape Reinga for the start of #WalkNZ, my 3,000km solo walking adventure along the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.
Dad drove. Mum sat up front. I took the backseat, staring out the window as a diverse landscape whizzed past the car windows.
Thoughts also whizzed through my head.
Thoughts that asked me what I was doing, what I hoped to prove. Thoughts that questioned my sanity, my physical and mental ability.
Thoughts that probed to the depths of my soul about whether I was really ready and good enough to take on this epic trail all by myself, with no experience and extremely limited training.
I was scared. Petrified of failing and doubting everything.
And then the what ifs started – what if I got caught by the high tide and I got stranded and couldn’t get to the campsite tonight? What if I got lost? What if I couldn’t put my tent up by myself or it blew away? What if there was no water supply at the campsite? What if I couldn’t get my camp stove to work? What if I’m totally out of my depth? What if, what if, what if… Continue reading
I went to the dentist on Monday. Over the weekend I went clothes shopping for the boyfriend and filled a skip with junk. I drank gin and tonics on Saturday night and the other week I voted in the European Parliament elections.
You can’t get much more normal (or dull) than that.
Life in South London is a world away from walking the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand.
I’ve been asked so many times (that I’ve lost count) what it’s like to be back. My answer is the same – it’s all a little surreal. Continue reading
I’d just returned to Auckland after being forced to push pause on my #WalkNZ adventure after injuring my knee at the 2,000km mark.
I was catching up with friends and family and one friend asked me: “So how’s the self-doubt? Do you think you’ve conquered it now that you’ve walked 2,000km down the length of New Zealand?” Continue reading
On the outside I look normal.
I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt – clothes I bought from a fashion, non-outdoors store. My body smells perfumed and clean; my hair, washed and shiny. Black pencil lines my eyes. There is red rouge on my cheeks.
My tan has faded while my muscles retreat behind a new cuddly layer of fat.
For all intents and purposes, I look like a regular run-of-the-mill person. Certainly not someone who has walked 2,000km of the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.
But outside appearances can be deceiving.
Because inside me, long-distance trail walking oozes through my blood. My legs twitch. I dream of solitude and lonely mountains, the gurgling of streams, the feeling I get from walking uphill or busting out more than 4km an hour along a flat stretch of road.
The inside and outside are opposites of each other. I feel off kilter.
I’d been warned about “re-entry” to society after finishing the Te Araroa Trail. Like the rest of the trail, nothing can quite prepare you for it. Continue reading
Three weeks ago, I had to turn around and walk back into civilisation when poor weather conditions and a dodgy leg forced my hand and I couldn’t make it over the second highest point on the Te Araroa trail.
I ended up in Hanmer Springs, a spa resort town in the South Island of New Zealand, for a week, eating a lot of food (notably the spectacular cinnamon swirl buns from the local bakery) and visiting two local physios a total of three times about my bung leg.
The intention was always to get back on the trail.
But when a week rolled around and the leg was no better, it was clear I needed more time off. As it was, I couldn’t see how I could walk for eight to ten hours everyday on it on the trail when after a mere 15 minutes of strolling I was in pain and hobbling (and that was without the beast of my backpack on).
It posed something of a dilemma. Continue reading
After injuring my leg I’v been forced to make a big decision on the future of my walk on the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand. Continue reading